BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- A 13 million years old ape living in what is now Spain may have been the last common father of all apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans.
The fossil gives us a missing link, not directly between humans and an apelike ancestor, but between great apes and lesser apes such as gibbons.
A 13 million years old ape living in what is now Spain may have been the last common father of all apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans. (Photo source: CRIENGLISH.com/Reuters)
His name was Pierolapithecus catalaunicus and he had a stiff lower spine and flexible wrists, which showed that he was a tree-climbing specialist,the researchers write in this week's issue of the journal Science.
"This probably is very close to the last common ancestor of great apes and humans," said Salvador Moya-Sola of the Miguel Crusafont Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona, Spain, who led the study.
His colleague Meike Kohler said that it would have looked something like a modern chimpanzee and probably ate fruit.
"I would call it a missing link, because it really fills a gap," she added.
Old world monkeys, which now live in Africa and Asia about 25 million years ago, split off from the line and they eventually led to apes.
The great apes -- orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans -- are believed to have branched off from the lesser apes such as gibbons and siamangs about 11 million to 16 million years ago.
An estimated seven million years ago, humans branched off from chimpanzees. Enditem